The Lancashire Heeler is a rare breed of small dog that hails from Great Britain. Bred to be a cattle dog, they are small enough to easily nip at the cow’s hooves but quick and agile enough to move out of the way before getting kicked. When they weren’t busy keeping the cows in line these little dogs also kept the farm free of vermin such as rats. They are a healthy breed, and they require minimal daily grooming, but they are not hypoallergenic. They tend to be friendly and affectionate with family, but can be wary of strangers, and benefit greatly from early socialization and training.
The full ancestry of the Lancashire Heeler isn’t certain, most experts believe that this Heeler originated in the Welsh and English regions of Great Britain as a mixture of the Corgi line and some form of Black and Tan Terrier, such as the Manchester Terrier, though there are claims that other breeds such as the Dachshund may have also been included in their formation. Lancashire Heelers are a short enough breed to nip at the heels of cattle as well as being nimble enough to move quickly out of the way before getting kicked. This made them an ideal dog to help control cattle, both at home and on the road when traveling to market. These little dogs are also efficient ratters, and they helped to clear the farm of vermin when they weren’t busy herding the cattle. Although it had suffered a decline in population, interest in this breed was regenerated in the 1960’s, and in Britain, in 1978 the Lancashire Heeler Club was formed. Due in large part to the dedication of a breeder by the name of Gwen Macintosh, The Kennel Club in the United Kingdom recognized this breed in 1981 and in the United States, the United Kennel Club recognized this breed on November 1, 2009. This breed is not yet definitively recognized with either the FCI or the AKC, however, it is considered a foundation stock service breed by the AKC and may participate in herding events, and as of 2016 was recognized on a provisional basis with the FCI.
The Lancashire Heeler is both small and sturdy, with a soft undercoat which is completely covered by a layer of short, thick fur that lays flat against the body. They possess a proportional head with a tapering face, with an alert and energetic expression. The eyes are almond shaped and either dark or light brown to match their coat, and their ears are triangular and held erect. They have a mildly elongated body, similar to the Corgi that they are likely descended from, with slightly shortened legs that are typically straight and well-boned. The paws on the Lancashire are small and well-padded, and the tail is carried over the back with a slight curve, though it generally does not form a full ring. The black and tan combination is the most commonly seen color for these dogs, and liver & tan is also a recognized color. Although they are not typically recognized by the Kennel Clubs, some of these dogs may be born with tricolor, brindle, or sable colors.
The grooming requirements for this breed are low. Bathing is typically only required a few times a year, although your Lancashire Heeler does require brushing on a regular basis, a grooming mitt or slicker brush will generally suffice. This is important not only to remove burrs, dirt, and excess hair from the coat but also to check for fleas or ticks. When you do bathe your dog, it is important to ensure that their undercoat is fully dry as it can hold moisture close to the skin, causing bacterial and fungal infections to flourish. These dogs are both energetic and intelligent, so they do require half an hour to an hour of daily exercise and mental stimulation to remain at their happiest and healthiest. Walks and runs are an excellent way to get the exercise and stimulation that your dog needs, but puzzle toys and training sessions may also play a part in providing these requirements.